World Diabetes Day: Education to protect tomorrow

November 14 of every year is dedicated to the awareness of Diabetes Mellitus globally. The term diabetes is the shortened version of the full name Diabetes Mellitus. The Greek word Diabetes means siphon – to pass through- and the Latin word Mellitus means honeyed or sweet. In diabetes, excess sugar is found in the blood as well as the urine. It was known in the 17th century as the ‘pissing evil.’

Approximately 537 million people between 20 and 79 years are living with diabetes. The total number of people living with diabetes is projected to rise to 643 million by 2030 and 783 million by 2045, according to International Diabetes Federation’s latest report. Three in four adults with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries, which include Nigeria. Almost one in two (240 million) adults living with diabetes are currently undiagnosed while 541 million adults, according to IDF, are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, also known as T2DM. Nigeria is one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa currently groaning under a rising prevalence of Diabetes Mellitus; about 5.8 per cent (approximately six million) adults in Nigeria, based on a report, are living with the disease.

Diabetes is a group of metabolic disorders characterized by high blood sugar levels resulting from not producing any or enough insulin, or not effectively using the insulin produced. Pre-diabetes/ Intermediate Hyperglycemia is a condition where people have higher than normal blood glucose levels, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Individuals with prediabetes are at a higher risk of developing T2DM.

Type 1 Diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, happens due to the autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic Beta cells that play a role in insulin production in the body which helps to optimize blood sugar level. This condition can affect any age group but is common among children and young adults. In the case of Type 2 Diabetes, also called non-insulin-dependent diabetes or adult diabetes, the beta cells produce insulin but are unable to use insulin effectively due to insulin resistance, thereby resulting in hyperglycemia. Gestational Diabetes is diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy. It may occur anytime during pregnancy but commonly after 24 weeks. This condition is temporal and is usually resolved after pregnancy. However, in some women, gestational diabetes is more likely to develop into T2DM after pregnancy.

The risk factors associated with diabetes are family history of diabetes, being overweight, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, age, high blood pressure and a history of gestational diabetes. Clinical manifestations present with the following signs and symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, persistent thirst and hunger. Others are weight loss, glucosuria, dehydration, fatigue, blurred vision, tingling and numbness in hands and feet.

To manage diabetes, eat healthy, especially non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, lean proteins, and fish. Limit sweetened drinks, sugar, fatty foods, processed food, sodium, and stay and replace with water, and stay hydrated with clean potable water. Engage in regular physical activity and exercise such as a daily routine for work. Don’t smoke or expose yourself to environmental hazards like air pollution. Ensure adequate sleep of about eight hours a day and avoid stress. Weight loss lowers the risk of diabetes and aids its management with the recommended Body Mass Index.

The management of diabetes pharmacologically includes the usage of insulin and various oral medications. These are only given by your doctors after proper consultation, using different reasons based on the individual to decide which ones are right. You should properly adhere to the prescription given to you by your physician.

Eye problems like cataracts and glaucoma, foot problems like wounds that do not heal properly, heart issues and stroke, kidney problems, nerve damage (neuropathy), gum disease and other mouth problems, and sexual problems in women and men with erectile dysfunction, are some of the complications with diabetes. The rate of complications can be slowed by initial correct management. Diabetes is a condition that many live well with quietly, but many more manage it improperly due to a lack of adequate knowledge and misinformation about its management. It must be noted that more people have Pre-diabetes, which means they must be even more vigilant to arrest the slide into full-blown diabetes by following advice from competent medical professionals about their health condition.

  • Adéyemí Oladimeji of Chronicare Diabetes Center writes from Lagos; 09055790892

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